Site-Specific Browsers: Turn Websites Into Desktop Applications
For a web application, It is always a good idea to provide access to it from other platforms like mobile or desktop programs.
As web designers/developers, desktop applications are harder to create considering they have a totally different environment.
In order to fill this gap, we can make use of site-specific browsers which enable us to lock a website inside an application-looking browser that can interact with the system tray/dock & display notifications.
Some usage examples for site-specific browsers:
- displaying new orders, support tickets for an e-commerce website
- showing system tray alerts when a new visitor visits your website
- or even locking your whole application inside a site-specific browser and offering it as a desktop application.
To sum up, they simply help us convert a website into a desktop application. Here are free & mature tools for creating site-specific browsers:
Mozilla Prism (Win-Mac)
Prism is a very easy-to-customize tool that supports Windows & Mac.
Applications created can be:
- minimized to system tray/dock & a navigation can be added there
- set to display status messages & popups in the system tray/dock
Prism apps. will be running seperately from the browser & will stay alive even if the browser isn't.
P.S. You can also read a more detailed post about Prism at WRD.
Fluid enables you to create Cocoa desktop applications with:
- dock icon
- standard menu bar
- growl notifications
- Userscripting (Greasemonkey)
- & more..
An application platform for creating site-specific browsers which supports:
- system tray icon & context menu
- drap'n drop of local files
- & more..
Mango can create a website-to-application instantly with features like:
- custom tray & context menu
- minimize to tray
- always on top
- kiosk mode
- fixed width/height
- & more..
All application settings are kept in a XML file which can be used for further customization.
Other Site-Specific Browser Methods:
- Curl offers EmbeddedBrowserGraphic to accomplish this functionality.
- Using Adobe AIR, it is possible to create site-specific browsers (a simple example).
- Site-specific browsers with WebKit.
There are also other ways of creating desktop applications with web scripting technologies like: